Scripps Howard News Service
December 18, 2005
Iraqis voted in large numbers in a historic parliamentary election. Heavy turnout was reported by Sunnis, improving U.S. hopes of calming the insurgency bedeviling American troops. Ballots ran out in some precincts. Insurgents staged relatively few attacks. As many as 11 million people voted, putting the turnout at more than 70 percent, according to Iraqi officials.
Senate refuses to extend Patriot Act
The Senate refused to reauthorize major parts of the USA Patriot Act, with critics saying they infringed too much on Americans' privacy and liberty. The bill's Senate supporters could not win the 60 votes needed to overcome a threatened filibuster by a bipartisan group of senators.
Bush authorized eavesdropping: report says
The New York Times reported that President Bush has authorized secret government eavesdropping on Americans for the past three years. Under a presidential order signed in 2002, the National Security Agency has monitored the international telephone calls and international e-mail messages of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people inside the United States without warrants, current and former officials told the Times. The agency was searching for evidence of terrorist activity.
Bush backs McCain on torture
President Bush reversed course and supported Sen. John McCain's call for a law banning torture of prisoners in American custody. A day earlier, the House overwhelmingly endorsed McCain's measure. It would establish the Army Field Manual as the uniform standard for the interrogation of prisoners and ban abuse of prisoners.
Williams executed in California
Stanley Tookie Williams, who helped form the Crips street gang of Los Angeles, was executed by lethal injection in California for murdering four people in 1979. Williams maintained his innocence. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger denied clemency, citing Williams' refusal to admit to the murders.
Red Cross president resigns
The president of the Red Cross resigned. Marsha J. Evans was brought in to help restore the reputation of the American Red Cross after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but her organization was heavily criticized over its response to Hurricane Katrina. The Red Cross said Evans didn't resign over the criticism but because of conflicts with the organization's board.
Former Sen. Proxmire dies
Former Wisconsin Sen. William Proxmire, a leading scourge of big spending and government waste, died at the age of 90. Proxmire suffered from Alzheimer's disease. The Democratic lawmaker was best known for his monthly "Golden Fleece" awards, which he began in 1975 to point out what he thought were wasteful expenditures of taxpayers' money.
Philip Morris verdict reversed
The Illinois Supreme Court reversed a $10 billion verdict against Philip Morris USA and ordered a lower court to dismiss the case. The tobacco giant was accused of defrauding customers into thinking "light" cigarettes were safer than regular ones. The court found that Federal Trade Commission rulings specifically authorized tobacco companies to characterize their products as "light" or "low tar and nicotine."
Romney won't seek another term
Republican Mitt Romney, who is expected to run for president in 2008, said he won't seek a second term next year as Massachusetts governor. Of his presidential prospects, Romney said only, "I'm keeping my options open." He said that in Massachusetts, "Most of the things I'd wanted to do and I promised during the campaign, we've done."
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